Arusha — The East African Community (EAC) has adopted its Energy Security Policy Framework which seeks to ensure the security of the region's biomass, electricity, and oil and gas supplies.
According to Mr Elsam Byempaka Turyahabwe, the energy expert at the Community Secretariat, partner states are implementing number related projects to address the low access to modern energy services in the region. However, energy security is a major challenge in the EAC and globally.
"This EAC Energy Security Framework aims to provide regional guidance to partner states in the management and mitigation of the challenge," said Mr Turyahabwe, according to yesterday's dispatch to the newsrooms.
He added: "We also anticipate that greater effort will be made at pursuing regional solutions to parts of the security of supply challenges in the biomass, electricity and oil and gas sub-sectors".
Mr Yohannes Hailu, Energy Economist at UN Economic Commission for Africa, confirmed that this framework would address pertinent energy security issues still prevailing in the EAC region, if implemented by all the Partner States.
"Deforestation, rising wood and charcoal prices, devoting large share of our national budget towards the importation of oil and gas, electricity affordability and reliability, among others, are all signals that we needed to look at energy security and come up with a framework that enables us to address and prevent the security challenges," said Hailu.
The Sectorial Council on Energy of the EAC adopted this framework early this month in Arusha, after being signed by the six-member states (Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda).
Recognising energy as pivotal to their transformational agenda, the ECA partner States have set ambitious development plans prioritizing the energy sector.
ECA, through its office for Eastern Africa, collaborated with EAC in the development of the framework.
Mr Hailu stated that East African countries have been depending nearly exclusively on imported refined petroleum, and with new discoveries of oil and gas reserves in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania, a regional framework on energy security management is timely.
"Disruption in the supply of imported energy, particularly hydrocarbons, and/or sharp swings in their price, would cause macroeconomic impacts that could undermine the momentum of economic development taking place in East Africa," highlighted Hailu.
Mr Hailu explained that energy security is a component of economic stability because the lack of it hampers the proper functioning of socioeconomic systems and undermines economic activities, particularly in energy-intensive industries.
The EAC becomes the first regional economic community to adopt an Energy Security Policy Framework in Africa.
Most of the energy projects within the bloc are coordinated under the Eastern Africa Power Pool (EAPP) which aims at provision of adequate, reliable, affordable and sustainable energy services.
It also includes electricity interconnectivity across borders to promote the broader EAC objective of attracting investment and promoting competitiveness and trade.
The East African region has a great potential to generate up to 4,097 megawatts of electricity from small hydropower plants, according to statistics from the Arusha-based secretariat.
A survey carried out by the regional organization with the support from the European Union Energy Initiative Partnership Dialogue Facility (EU-EIPDF) indicated that there were 750 waterfalls and other sites which can generate electricity if harnessed.